Are You Interested in Speaking at the 2023 OCHBS Conference?

We are looking for a diverse lineup of speakers in various areas including cannabis, hemp, CBD, and psychedelics. We’re seeking speakers with innovative ideas and compelling insights who can focus on educating the audience.

Some topics that we will be exploring include:

  • State of the Cannabis Industry
  • Executives In Cannabis
  • Marketing and Retail Insights
  • Cultivation Operations
  • Patient Insights Forum
  • Women In Leadership
  • Ancillary Businesses
  • Expungement
  • Understanding CBD & Hemp
  • Cooking With Cannabis
  • Beverages
Apply to Become a Speaker at the 2023 OCHBS Conference
Please keep it to 3 or less.


Roz McCarthy Headshot
Roz McCarthy
Founder & CEO, Minorities for Medical Marijuana

Minorities for Medical Marijuana is the largest community-based national nonprofit organization serving communities of color in the cannabis and hemp industries. She’s also the founder/CEO of Black Buddha Cannabis, a social impact brand that creates wellness products in partnership with cannabis operators in legalized states.

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Ariane Kirkpatrick
Ariane Kirkpatrick
CEO, Harvest of Ohio

Ariane is the CEO of Harvest Grows, Harvest of Ohio, and Harvest Processing, companies with provisional large-scale medical, cannabis cultivation,dispensary and processing licenses, for operations in Ironton, suburban Dayton, Columbus and Athens, Ohio. Her plan is to create economic development opportunities that come with marijuana and its ability to change lives, transform economies and provide jobs for people who desperately need work.

Ariane loves the city of Cleveland and she’s been recognized by several organizations as a result of her efforts to play a role in improving programs, including diversity and inclusion efforts in various industries. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies at Cleveland State University and is also an alumni of Cuyahoga Community College. But her proudest accomplishment is being the mother of two sons, Ali and Kristopher. She is the proud wife of Danny Couch, and stepmother of Camille and Jazmine.

While the journey is far from complete, Ariane focuses on keeping things in perspective. She’s learned that a sense of humor helps, whether she’s focusing on commercial construction: a complex world of critical schedules, firm budgets, dozens of disciplines and countless personalities; or volunteering in the community; or exploring a new industry. Ariane is adept at working with people at all levels and from diverse backgrounds. So far, she’s learned that business development boils down to passion and persistence.

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Juliana Whitney, MBA
Cannabis Business Strategist

Juliana Whitney, MBA, specializes in new venture creation and development and has been focused on the cannabis industry since 2015.  

She started out as a patient coordinator at the first dispensary in Las Vegas, went on to start Cann Strategy a cannabis business strategy consulting firm, and since 2017 has consulted with cannabis companies across the U.S. on licensing and operations, and has composed high-scoring and winning competitive license applications in Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, and Mississippi. 

Juliana, along with a co-founder, recently launched leafsheets.com which is a platform developed to simplify cannabis entrepreneurship and lower the barriers to entry and success by providing vital resources and information for starting and operating cannabis businesses — the things that the big shots have, but without the big shot price tag.

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Dr. Hemant Kumar Bid PH.D. M.S.
Dr. Hemant Kumar Bid Ph. D. MS.
Program Director, MSBT-MCT

Dr. Hemant Kumar Bid, Ph.D. MS. is a top educator in the cannabis field. As a Program Director of MSBT-MCT (Medical Cannabis Therapeutics) online education program, faculty member at both St. Louis University and the Cleveland School of Cannabis, Dr. Bid uses his extensive background in cannabinoid research to educate cannabis and medical professionals and infuse the industry with science-backed legitimacy. He has lectured nationally and internationally on how medical cannabis affects the body and how it is used to treat illnesses from a neuroscience perspective. Dr. Bid completed his doctorate degree in Medical Biochemistry and graduated from Ohio State University with an MS (Pharmacology) degree. He has 20 years of clinical and translational research experience in the field of drug discovery and health care management. Dr. Bid dedicates himself to cannabis education with specific focuses on the medicinal value of cannabis, augmenting endocannabinoid (ECS) health and motivating the industry forward with a research-based, integrative approach to cannabinoids. He advocates for the plant based on its unique status as both a preventative and a therapeutic medicine.

In addition to serve as a Program Director of MSBT-MCT (Medical Cannabis Therapeutics) online education program, teaching graduate students at St Louis university and CSC, Dr. Bid also serves as Director of Research for CP Labs, a cannabis testing laboratory in Columbus, Ohio. At CP, he conducts cannabinoid profiling, microbiological screening, pesticide screening, terpene analysis, residual solvent analysis and heavy metal testing to guarantee the quality, potency, and regulatory compliance of cannabis products in the state of Ohio. Dr Bid recently joined as an advisory board member for VAHA (The Veterans Alliance for Holistic Alternatives). Dr. Bid’s research has been published in peer-reviewed journals more than 80 times over the course of his career. He also moderates cannabis forums on Clubhouse, a live audio platform with a thriving cannabis community.

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Tahir Johnson
Tahir Johnson
Owner, Simply Pure New Jersey

Tahir Johnson is the Director of Social Equity and Inclusion for the United States Cannabis Council. In this role, Tahir advances the nonprofit’s mission of achieving social justice for those impacted by cannabis prohibition. With a focus on licensing equity, he develops educational resources for industry stakeholders and heads an accountability task force to support members’ equity program goals.

Prior to joining the USCC, he was the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Manager at the National Cannabis Industry Association. Tahir also has extensive hands-on industry experience in the retail sector as a medical cannabis patient counselor and has applied for business licenses in both Maryland and New Jersey. Before he pursued his passion for supporting the cannabis community, he worked as a financial advisor and served on the diversity council of Morgan Stanley.

Tahir attended Howard University, where he majored in Marketing. He also holds a Marijuana Master Certificate from the Cannabis Training University and a certification in Indoor Horticulture from Oaksterdam University. Outside of work, he produces and hosts the podcast Cannabis Diversity Report.

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Nathan Johnson, PhD
Co-Founder & CEO, Verne Bioanalytics

As a bioinformatician/molecular biologist/microbiologist, I have the ability to communicate effectively with computer scientists, data scientists, and biologists. My expertise rests within using my biological understanding to find relevant biological patterns by using machine learning (supervised, semi-supervised, unsupervised, deep learning). Examples of problems are listed under projects, but a few examples are alternative splicing, protein interaction, microRNA, novel genome analysis, and expression analysis.

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Sheri Tarr

Founder & Chief Advisor of ’68 Partners LLC

SHERI TARR, JD is the Founder and Chief Advisor of ’68 Partners LLC, a global consulting firm dedicated to helping CBD, hemp, and cannabis brands, license applicants and licensees build sustainable businesses that have a transformative impact on consumers, patients, and the global economy. A former big pharma sales and marketing executive responsible for launching FDA regulated products worldwide, Sheri has over three decades of real world experience operating in highly regulated environments. After working for Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies, Sheri flipped the script and became an attorney who spent a distinguished career in the courtroom holding these same companies accountable for deceptive marketing, defective manufacturing, and other regulatory violations. She has witnessed firsthand the good, the bad, and the totally avoidable.

More inspired by helping companies avoid regulatory pitfalls and find successful commercial pathways, Sheri founded ’68 Partners LLC which specializes in business advisory, regulatory strategy, best compliance practices, license application consulting, and strategic partnering. ’68 Partners serves clients across the cannabis spectrum from CBD, hemp, and THC brands to legacy operators, retailers, processers, cultivators, and other industry stakeholders. Sheri’s guidance and insights have also been sought by law firms, financial advisory firms, legislators and regulators, investors, and an array of service providers.

A University of Michigan alum and Chicago Kent College of Law graduate, Sheri is a respected industry thought leader, speaker, and emcee. A long-time voting rights advocate and published photographer, Sheri also serves as a Board Advisor to cannabis companies, and is a Director and New York delegate for the Cannabis Advisory Group.

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Andrew Hamerly
Website Admin, SEO, & Copywriter,
OCHBS & Freelance

Andrew Hamerly provides custom solution-based digital marketing support to numerous Ohio Cannabis & Hemp businesses. He is the Website Administrator and SEO at the Ohio Cannabis Health & Business Summit, Ascension Biomedical, Plant Puff™, and Whole Plant™ CBD.

He was born south of Cleveland and went to three different Ohio colleges ultimately receiving a bachelor’s degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Baldwin Wallace University, an associate’s degree in Supply Chain Management from Cuyahoga Community College, and a Cannabis Horticulture Certificate from The Cleveland School of Cannabis.

Andrew is known to learn consistently, staying up to date on the world of cannabis, copywriting, organic search, digital marketing, and WordPress websites. If you have any questions about how online cannabis marketing can transform your business, please reach out through my website AndrewHamerly.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Amonica Davis Headshot
Amonica Davis
COO, Harvest of Ohio

Amonica Davis is the Chief Operating Officer for The Jabali Group, LLC., the administrative management company for Harvest of Ohio, Harvest Grows, and Harvest Processing – companies with vertically integrated large-scale medical cannabis dispensary, cultivation, and processing licenses for operations in suburban Columbus, Athens, Dayton, and Ironton, Ohio. In her role, Amonica creates and leads the execution of processes and business systems that support the day-to-day operations and internal affairs of the Cleveland-headquartered cannabis company. Amonica consistently encourages her team to create solutions, which has always been her mantra since starting her career three decades ago. As a result, she was promoted to leadership positions early on and throughout her career, whether it was in the nonprofit sector, higher education administration, or most recently, prior to joining ranks with her sister, CEO of The Jabali Group, in the manufacturing industry.

One of the earlier challenges she faced stemmed from often being the youngest manager or leader in a department, which she overcame over time, with age. The other challenge came from those who undervalued her voice, insight, and overall impact due to race and gender. Today, she is instrumental in flipping stereotypes on their backs by building cohesive, diverse, and inclusive work teams that celebrate success, overcome challenges and win against the odds. And forever, Amonica will coach and lead anyone who desires, to be excellent at work, to be present at home, and to impact all those they encounter and to be impacted by them.

Amonica is also a small-business owner in partnership with her husband, John Davis, Jr. As owners of ServiceMaster by Davis, they work tirelessly to fulfill the ServiceMaster corporate objectives – Honor God in all we do; help people develop; excel with customers; and grow profitably. Amonica is a 2014 graduate of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at Tri-C, an initiative designed to help entrepreneurs contribute to the economic development of their regions by growing their businesses.

Amonica is a past School Board Member for eight years of Breakthrough Public Schools, one of the highest-performing charter school networks in the state of Ohio. While serving, she served on the human resources committee, providing strategic planning for hiring qualified staff and ensuring competitive compensation and benefits. She is a member of the Leadership Lorain County (LLC) Signature Class, of 2014.

Amonica serves on the Advisory Board for Facing History and Ourselves (FH&O), which is in direct alignment with Amonica’s purpose and passion. FH&O uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. It is the belief of FH&O and Amonica that the racism, prejudice, and inequity that we witness today are the legacy of brutal injustices of the past, and that the next generation of leaders will build a world based on knowledge and compassion, the foundation for more democratic, equitable, and just societies.

Amonica received a B.A. in vocal music performance from Kent State University and a M.Ed. degree in higher education administration from Cleveland State University. She has completed all of her coursework requirements towards a Ph.D. in educational policy, and is an alum of Hawken School, an independent, private school located in Gates Mills, Ohio. Amonica and John are the proud parents of three adult children, Naja, John III, and Jalen.

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Dr. Uma Dhanabalan Headshot
Dr. Uma Dhanabalan
Founder/CEO, Global Health & Hygiene Solutions

Dr. Dhanabalan is a highly respected and educated physician known to most as Dr. Uma. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree with High Honors from Rutgers University and her Medical Degree from the University of Medicine & Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. She completed her Family Practice Residency at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, South Carolina. She has her Master’s in Public Health and completed her Occupational & Environmental Medicine Residency and Fellowship in Heavy Metals at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston Massachusetts. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She is also Certified as a Diplomat by the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine as Cannabinoid Medicine Specialist and by the Medical Review Officer Certification Council as a Medical Review Officer.

She has received awards from the American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine for her research project: “Occupational & Environmental Exposure to Lead in South India”, from The 7th World Ayurveda Conference & Arogya Expo for her presentation “Cannabis & The Therapeutic Uses”, the Educational Achievement Award presented by Clover Leaf at Cannabis Business Award 2017, Award from High Times Inaugural Female 50 and The International Cannabis Activist Award at The 10Th Anniversary Cannabis Business Awards 2022 .

She is the Founder/CEO for Global Health & Hygiene Solutions, LLC established in 2006, with a mission to promote wellness and prevent illness. She created the model TotalHealthCareTHC where she “Educates, Embraces, Empowers” her patients and promotes cannabis as a treatment option at Uplifting Health & Wellness. She is an educator, advocate, and activist and speaks locally & globally about cannabis as a plant medicine. Her mission is to change the stigma regarding Cannabis and for the world to know about the Endocannabinoid system through education.

Dr. Uma Says®, “Educate Embrace Empower“, “Cannabis is not for everyone, yet it should be a first-line option, not the last resort”, “Cannabis is an entrance to a better quality of life, an exit drug from pharmaceuticals, narcotics, alcohol, and nicotine.” “Safety first, Do No Harm.” “Cannabis The Exit Drug®”

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Tahir Johnson
Tahir Johnson
Director of Social Equity and Inclusion, U.S. Cannabis Council

Tahir Johnson is the Director of Social Equity and Inclusion for the United States Cannabis Council. In this role, Tahir advances the nonprofit’s mission of achieving social justice for those impacted by cannabis prohibition. With a focus on licensing equity, he develops educational resources for industry stakeholders and heads an accountability task force to support members’ equity program goals.

Prior to joining the USCC, he was the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Manager at the National Cannabis Industry Association. Tahir also has extensive hands-on industry experience in the retail sector as a medical cannabis patient counselor and has applied for business licenses in both Maryland and New Jersey. Before he pursued his passion for supporting the cannabis community, he worked as a financial advisor and served on the diversity council of Morgan Stanley.

Tahir attended Howard University, where he majored in Marketing. He also holds a Marijuana Master Certificate from the Cannabis Training University and a certification in Indoor Horticulture from Oaksterdam University. Outside of work, he produces and hosts the podcast Cannabis Diversity Report.

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Tyrone Russell
Tyrone Russell
President, Cleveland School of Cannabis

Tyrone Russell is a native of Southeast San Diego, an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, community advocate and an award-winning higher education professional. Tyrone graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling and College Student Personnel from Shippensburg University. Tyrone is the Chief Executive Officer of Faces International Marketing and Development, LLC and President of the Cleveland School of Cannabis, a career school for cannabis education.

Tyrone has worked for numerous colleges and universities as an Assistant Director, a Counselor, Faculty, and Program Coordinator. He serves on a regional committee dedicated to constructing high school leadership conferences, conducts team building workshops for teachers and corporate staffs, and designs and executes seminars and trainings for youth. Formerly serving as the Coordinator of Racial and Ethnic Justice with the Community Action Agency of the Lehigh Valley, and as the Director of Multicultural Affairs at Lehigh University, Tyrone executes cultural realization sessions and diversity trainings throughout the region for corporations and school districts.

Tyrone’s journey has been full of tenacity and endurance. These traits have proven invaluable in his ability to assist organizations in creating strategic frameworks that increase inclusion while also enhancing tools and experiences that decrease institutional and personal biases that impact culture and day-to-day operations. He has held positions on the executive board of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce, Board of directors for the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley, Board of directors of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Allentown, and co-founded R2C2 incorporated- a non-profit organization dedicated to youth development. Recipient of the 2017 African American Businessman of the Year Award presented by the African American business Council of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.

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Geoff Headshot
Geoff Korff
CEO, Galenas

Geoff has been an advocate for patient rights in Ohio for more than a decade. As an attorney, he wrote some of the first language that was submitted to the Ohio attorney general to create a medical marijuana regulatory structure in the state. Geoff is broadly experienced and previously served as the president of a manufacturing business in Ohio. He brings a host of professional experience including operations management, quality control, sales and marketing, regulatory compliance, and product development. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Syracuse University’s College of Law.

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Jared Maloof Headshot
Jared Maloof
CEO, Standard Wellness

Jared Maloof is a veteran professional with a proven track record in providing strategic and business performance improvement. He holds more than 15 years of business, audit, and financial experience and has led various capital raises which raised in aggregate $1.6 billion. He received a Bachelor’s from the University of Colorado School of Business and his J.D. from Cleveland State University; he is also a licensed C.P.A. He has extensive US GAAP familiarity and has demonstrated a niche ability to effectively interact will C-Suite level management and Boards of Directors. He currently serves as the CEO for Standard Wellness Holdings, LLC, where he has primary responsibility over operations, production, treasury, financial planning, corporate development, strategic planning, taxes, and financial reporting. Early in 2019, he resigned as CFO from PSC Metals, Inc. to enter the cannabis industry full time. PSC Metals is a recycling company, which is a reportable segment of Icahn Enterprises (IEP, Nasdaq) with revenues recently as high as $1.1 billion. At PSC Metals, he developed and presented to Carl Icahn a five-year strategic plan designed to increase enterprise value by over $250 million, while also managing a series of acquisitions and divestitures for the company. Prior to joining PSC Metals, he served as Director of Supply Chain Optimization and Director of Finance at Aleris International, where revenues were $5 billion.​

Jared was the Treasurer of the May Dugan Center for four years and lives in Fairview Park with his wife Wendy and four children.​

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Jeff McCourt Headshot
Jeff McCourt
Co-Founder & CEO, Firelands Scientific
  • Social Entrepreneur with 10+ years’ experience guiding fast-growth startups in heavily regulated industries. 
  • Built Firelands Scientific from concept, writing 3/3 competitive licenses, standup of $20 million+ facility in 8 months, first legal sale in Ohio (January 2019), and now leading 170+ member team with purpose-driven multi-state expansion strategy. 
  • Partnership in West Virginia with HillFire Medical Cannabis and The Landing Dispensaries nationwide.
  • Corporate and regulatory attorney with large law firms in Boston and Cleveland. Co-founded the first Biglaw cannabis practice in Ohio. 
  • J.D. Georgetown University Law Center; B.A. Ohio State University.
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Jason Kabbes Headshot
Jason Kabbes
Founder and Sr. VP, Ohio Clean Leaf

Jason Kabbes is the Founder and Sr. Vice President of Ohio Clean Leaf, CEO of Diamond Science Extracts, and Co-Managing Partner of Bridge City Collective. A proud Springfield native, Jason started his cannabis advocacy efforts while attending Ohio State University, serving as President of For a Better Ohio. Jason holds the degrees Bachelor of Science – concentration in Geological Sciences (OSU, 2006), and Master of Science – concentration in Mineral Physics and Geophysical Chemistry (OSU, 2010). His research has been featured in journals and podcasts such as The Astrophysical Journal and Science Friday. 

Jason started his cultivation journey as a medical cannabis cultivator in Oregon, finely tuning his growing style according to his passion for true quality, integrated wellness, and a strict adherence to the scientific method. When Ohio House Bill 523 passed in 2016, Jason saw the opportunity to practice his true passion in his home state (alongside his old-school Springfield friends!), and so began Ohio Clean Leaf’s passionate pursuit: “We don’t strive to be the biggest, we just strive to be the best”. 

Jason has since co-founded several craft cannabis businesses in other east coast and midwest markets, including Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

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Michelle Simakis Headshot
Michelle Simakis
Editor-in-Chief, Cannabis Business Times & Cannabis Dispensary

Michelle Simakis is editor-in-chief of Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary. She joined GIE Media in 2012 and most recently served as editor of Garden Center magazine, the leading trade publication covering the independent garden retail market. Under her direction, Garden Center expanded its Top 100 Independent Garden Centers List by devoting an entire issue to telling the stories of the leaders and companies ranked on the list. She also helped to launch the Garden Center Executive Summit, the educational conference for key-decision makers in the industry, and recently developed a the only daily e-newsletter in the market. Simakis received her bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

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Patrick Williams Headshot
Patrick Williams
Managing Editor, Cannabis Business Times

Patrick Williams joined GIE Media in 2017 and worked as the associate editor and senior editor for sister publications Greenhouse Management and Produce Grower. He then worked for Cannabis Business TimesCannabis Dispensary and Hemp Grower before taking his current managing editor role at Cannabis Business Times. Previously, he was a freelance writer for B2B and consumer media and an editorial intern on GIE Media publication Golf Course Industry. Williams graduated from Kent State University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

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Cassie Tomaselli Headshot
Cassie Tomaselli
Conference Programming Director, Cannabis Conference

Cassie Tomaselli is a journalist and marketing professional with a specialization in cannabis and hemp since 2017. She currently serves as conference programming director for Cannabis Conference (owned by GIE Media), and is a contributing editor GIE Media’s award-winning trade publication Cannabis Business Times. Previously, Tomaselli also served as Director of Marketing & Communications for Firelands Scientific, an Ohio-based vertically integrated medical cannabis company. Cassie is also an experienced freelance writer, with bylines in publications such as: Cleveland Magazine, Agence France Presse (AFP), and Martha Stewart. She is an alumna of Kent State University’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication with a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism.

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Cimone Casson Headshot
Cimone Casson
Owner, Cannabis Capitol

Cimone Casson is an Insurance Agent in the Cannabis Space and the owner of Cannas Capital an insurance agency that focuses on the protection needs of cannabis and crafting brewing businesses. Cannas Capital produces tailor-made insurance portfolios for legal marijuana and craft beverage businesses to operate with the same peace of mind as other companies despite their unique risk. Insurance helps solidify the businesses’ structure and mitigate risk.  With Cannas Capital, companies can find broad insurance protection including employee benefits, delivery fleets and crop and inventory.

In addition, to being a successful entrepreneur, she serves on the board of several Social and Racial Equity organizations both local, national, and international. Cimone is the National Director of Social Economics for Minorities for Medical Marijuana, the largest minority marijuana trade group in the nation. She also sits on the National Cannabis Industry Association Board of Risk Management and Insurance, to lobby affordable protection for Cannabis Business. She is an ambassador Ghana’s Hemp Initiative, helping citizens create ancillary businesses in Accra, and lastly serves as the Chairwoman for Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (LARA’s MRA) Racial Equity Program’s Business Development Subcommittee, to create tangible pathways for social equity.

Cimone frequently speaks around the country on the importance of women and minorities venturing in the Green Rush via co-op crops, stocks, and other assets and its best practices.

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Kevin Greene
Kevin Greene
VP, Cleveland School of Cannabis

Kevin Greene is a father, mentor, compassionate community member, and successful entrepreneur. He has been focused on the equitable development of community and business his entire professional career and continues to commit to having a social impact through economic growth and the advancement of his communities. With ownership of two successful startups-Faces International Marketing and Development and the Cleveland School of Cannabis- he has years of experience developing successful teams. As a VP for the Cleveland School of Cannabis, his role has been crucial in the growth of the student body, partnership development, and community engagement. Working as a lead strategist over the last decade with clients ranging from city governments to small non-profits, he has been tasked with creating a culture of inclusion and participation to assist in Economic development and comprehensive initiatives.

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Christine DeJesus Headshot
Christine DeJesus
Director of Cultivation, Galenas

Christine has been directing cultivation for over three years at Galenas—an organic, three-tiered, living soil cannabis grow—in Akron, Ohio. Prior, she spent 13 years running Pint Size Farm for Great Lakes Brewing Company in the CVNP producing hops and over thirty types of fruit and vegetables. Christine is a columnist for Cannabis Business Times magazine, and her work has been featured in the Akron Beacon Journal, the Plain Dealer, and she has been the guest on multiple podcasts. Her regenerative farming work has been featured in the documentary “Polycultures: Food Where We Live,” and at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Christine created the current horticulture curriculum for the Cleveland School of Cannabis.

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Matthew Kispert Headshot
Matthew Kispert
VP of Cultivation, Buckeye Relief

Matthew has been with Buckeye Relief for over four years and was instrumental in the design and build-out of their 60,000-square-foot state-of-the-art grow facility. As VP of Cultivation, he developed and now oversees the cultivation department. Classically trained in horticulture, Matthew attended the University of Minnesota where he received his Master’s in Horticulture and helped construct an aquaponics farm as a learning tool for future students. He went on to spend four years as the horticulture manager for Mad Fish Farms, a collection of small hydroponic and aquaponic vegetable greenhouses in rural Iowa. Prior to joining Buckeye Relief, his time was spent as a greenhouse consultant where he assisted with the design and operation of hydroponic systems across the country, fielded questions from growers and taught classes on Controlled Environment Agriculture.  He also assisted The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences Feature in the development of a hydroponic specific GIP/GAP manual and training course.  Matthew’s science-based approach to growing has always been one of asking questions and letting the data provide the answers.

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Angel Cruz
Angel Cruz
Founder and COO, Kings Cannabis

Angel Cruz is an award-winning, multidisciplinary Master Grower of cannabis, with an eye for innovation and cannabis horticultural perfection. He has worked with a gamut of clients. Although his skill set is vast, his greatest expertise revolves around large-scale grow facility design & construction, organic cannabis cultivation, pure non-petroleum-based concentrate extraction, consulting, and the science and art of cannabis medicine. His wish is to combine his knowledge and experience in these areas in order to deliver the best opportunity for growth to his employers, clients, and their patrons. Angel has a strong reputation in the U.S. marijuana industry and is known as a pioneer in the medical marijuana industry.

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Juanita Brent
State Representative

State Representative Juanita Brent is a life-long community advocate from Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Wright State University where she served as the president of Black Women Striving Forward. Following her college political activism, she continued to be involved in Democrat Party organizations and serving in multiple leadership roles. Representative Brent remains deeply engaged with her community, serving on the boards of the Harvard Community Service Center and the Lee-Harvard Community Development Center. In 2018, she was elected to her first term as State Representative to the 12th Ohio House District. Following the example of her late aunt, Representative Brent remains committed to public service and to fighting for her community.

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Casey Weinstein
Casey Weinstein
Ohio House of Representatives

In Casey Weinstein’s family, public service is a way of life. He wants to raise his children to reach their maximum potential and to give them every opportunity to achieve their dreams. The US Air Force brought Casey and his wife, Amanda, to Ohio, and it was an easy choice for them to stay and make a life there.

Since being elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2018, Casey has established a bipartisan record of achievement, where he has worked to increase funding for roads, bridges and for first responders and fixed the unconstitutional way schools were funded.

Casey remains a vocal advocate for the rights of all Ohians and has been at the front line in the efforts to legalize marijuana.

With over a decade of experience as a leader and top performer in the information technology industry, Casey’s business acumen and perspective is exactly what Ohio needs to attract good-paying 21st-century jobs.

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Kenny Yuko Headshot
Kenny Yuko
State Senator, 25th District

Representing Ohio’s 25th Senate District that includes parts of both Cuyahoga and Lake Counties, State Senator Kenny Yuko has devoted his career to strengthening Northeast Ohio and improving the lives of those who call it home.
Senator Yuko grew up in Euclid and graduated from Brush High School in the South Euclid/Lyndhurst School District in 1968. He then attended both Cuyahoga Community College and Kent State University before entering the workforce.
Yuko began his career as a clothing buyer for Polsky’s Department Store, but he soon found his true passion with union organizing. He served with the Laborers’ Local #860 for 30 years, including 25 years as union organizer. He retired from that service in 2004. During his long career, he received multiple awards for his efforts, including the “2000 Organizing Award” from his International Union.
With this experience under his belt, Yuko ran for State Representative in 2004 with the goals of protecting working families, promoting health care access, and improving Ohio’s economic climate.  He won convincingly and was subsequently re-elected for three more terms. During his tenure in the House, he served as both Chairman and Ranking Member of the Commerce and Labor Committee, and was also a member on the Committees on Health and Aging and Veterans Affairs.
Because of his outstanding dedication to the causes he cares about, Yuko has received numerous awards and recognitions, including: AFL-CIO Lifetime Achievement Award, Kym Sellers Foundation Triumphant Award, National MS Society Advocacy Hall of Fame, Ohio Counseling Association Public Policy & Legislation Award, Home Medical Equipment Services Industry State Legislator of the Year Award, Linking Employment Abilities & Potential (LEAP) Legislative Advocacy Award, National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) Legislator of Year Award, Ohio Ambulance & Medical Transportation Association Legislator of the Year Award, The Rosemary Home Angel of the Year, Mayor Georgine Welo Community Service Award, and various other awards and citations for his years of service to the community.
Yuko resides in Richmond Heights with his wife Pam.  He has two children, Angela and the late Rocky, and three grandchildren.

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Nikki Lawley Headshot
Nikki Lawley
Founder, Nikki and the Plant

Nikki Lawley is a cannabis patient advocate, speaker, and founder of Nikki and the Plant. She discovered medical cannabis after experiencing a life-changing brain injury while working as a pediatric nurse in October 2016.

Nikki is a leading voice in the community, chronicling her journey from a healthcare provider, to a patient, to an advocate. She hopes to bring worldwide awareness to invisible illness, disability, and how cannabis can help improve quality of life. She has been a guest on multiple podcasts and shows, including “Let’s Be Blunt with Montel Williams.” Find Nikki’s media appearances here.

Nikki is creating the first line of evidence-based, symptom-specific cannabis products made from proprietary blends of terpenes and other cannabinoids. Each blend is formulated based on patient data who use cannabis to treat pain, cognitive function, anxiety, and depression. She is seeking mutually beneficial partnerships to spread awareness and pursue the creation of her product line.

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Brandy Phipps Headshot
Brandy Phipps
Assistant Professor, Central State University

Dr. Phipps received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  She is an Assistant Professor with a research focus on a) the intersection of climate change, nutrition/health equity, and food systems transformation; and b) holistic interactions of biomolecules in plant extracts and foods and the mechanisms of biomolecules in the prevention/alleviation of disease.  Dr. Phipps is Project Director on a $10 M USDA-funded project and Co-Pi on $1.5 M in additional USDA- and FDA-funded projects, one of which is focused on investigating the chemical compounds in smoked and vaped hemp products.  She has worked with cannabis since 2019. She has 20+ years of higher education teaching experience in the Biological and Life Sciences and Nutrition and a decade of experience in community service related to health and nutrition equity. She is particularly passionate about providing educational equity, advanced experiential STEM learning opportunities, and personalized mentoring to PEER (Persons Excluded because of Ethnicity and Race) students and those who have been socially and economically disadvantaged.

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Rick Kleban
Founder, Sycamore Group

Rick Kleban is founder and president of Sycamore Growth Group, a Dublin, Ohio-based firm that specializes in helping small- and medium-sized businesses, primarily manufacturing companies, attain and substantiate R&D tax credits. He assists companies in identifying eligible R&D expenses and oversees a talented team of professionals who substantiate how each underlying project and associated expenses meet the requirements of Section 41.

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Danier Reinier
Senior Tax Credit Manager, Sycamore Group

Daniel Reinier is senior tax credit manager at Sycamore Growth Group. He directs the firm’s efforts regarding the collection and interpretation of client data, as well as the calculation of the credits.

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Lucas Gould
Founder/CEO, Spendr

Lucas is the Founder and CEO of Spendr, the only technology platform that combines payments, rewards, and marketing for the cannabis industry. With backgrounds in cannabis and corporate banking & payments, Lucas saw the positive impact that fully integrated digital payments & marketing tools have on a business and their customer experience, and created Spendr to change how people purchase & experience cannabis. Spendr’s mission is to be a leading force in cannabis normalization, starting with delivering a convenient & rewarding purchasing experience, that makes cannabis buying safer, easier, and more “normal”.

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Allison Johnson
IPM Director, Buckeye Relief

Allison graduated from Kent State University with a BS in Botany and has always enjoyed working with plants. She began working in Buckeye Relief’s cultivation department for over four years. She developed an expertise in pest management and as the Director of IPM, she currently oversees the disease and pest management program, ensuring standards of quality are met while maintaining a healthy grow environment for the plants. For Allison, the cannabis industry is an exciting opportunity to apply her passion while helping other people gain access to plant medicine.

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Sonia Steele, Vegan Vicki Headshot
Sonia Steele/Vegan Vicki
Owner, Koncious Kuisine

Sonia Steele, affectionately known as “Vegan Vicki” started her vegan journey back in 2008, after being diagnosed with bronchioloaveolar carcinoma mucinous, a non-small cell form of lung cancer generally found in nonsmokers.
After having her lower left lung removed and while on her road to recovery, she began to research the effects of certain foods on your health and how cannabis helps with pain management. This led her to start a vegan/plant-based lifestyle. In 2008, veganism was not as mainstream and not having a lot of options to choose from, she began creating dishes that not only tasted great but were healthy and beneficial to her recovery.
Fast forward, Vegan Vicki has made a name for herself as a premier vegan chef and the owner of Koncious Kuisine. She is the first vegan chef to have an exclusive menu inside Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Her drive and creativity have allowed her to cook for such celebrities as Lamar Odom, Chris Paul, and other plant-based professional athletes. She is also a big supporter of infusion cuisine for cancer patients in helping with pain management.

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Nicole McKinney-Johnson Headshot
Nicole McKinney-Johnson
Human Resource Director, Harvest of Ohio

With over 20 years in the Human Resource space, Nicole McKinney-Johnson is an empowering Servant Leader who translates business vision into Human Resource initiatives and procedure implementation. 

Nicole is the Human Resource Director for H A R V ES T of OH! Now reaching a milestone of their (1) year Anniversary of opening all (3) dispensaries in Columbus, Athens and Beavercreek, Ohio, H A R V ES T of OH is proud to say that they have employed over 88 Full and Part Time Employees! 

Nicole holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources & Organizational Management from Wilberforce University and a Master’s Degree in Human Resources from Ursuline College, where she is also an Adjunct Professor. Nicole worked as the HR Director in several sectors: Government,  Higher Education, Finance, Health Care, Non-Profit and manufacturing.  

Current boards that she is an active member of: Lakeland Community College (Diversity and Inclusion Foundation), Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, The American Heart Association, Executive Leadership Team, Curriculum Advisor and Facilitator for Job Opportunities Partnership (J.O.B.S.) a faith based 12-week HR re-entry program for those that are returning to the work force after being incarcerated) a proud member Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Lambda Phi Omega Chapter, where she currently serves as their Chaplain.

Nicole is skillful in collaborating across HR initiatives with business leaders at all levels to drive organizational and cultural change as well as partnering with external customers to support achieving goals. Successful in leading DE&I councils, establishing and growing employee resource groups that promote inclusion and collaboration within organizations. Her greatest reward is being a bridge to those that thought no one would ever give them a change and watch how they flourish in their role and in their communities. Nicole is married to the love of her life; Duane and they have an amazing daughter Adrienne who serves in the US NAVY.

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Sara Rice Headshot
Sarah Rice
Kitchen Supervisor, FarmaceuticalRx

Sarah Rice is currently the Kitchen Supervisor for FarmaceuticalRx in East Liverpool, Ohio. Her journey into medical cannabis was an unusual one, starting with graduating from the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in 2003. After 6 years in the restaurant and catering business, she decided to go back to school for Medical Assisting specializing in Pediatric Phlebotomy. She found that she enjoyed the science of the medical field as much as she did the creativity in the culinary world!  In 2018, she stopped in at a job fair hosted by FarmaceuticalRx.  After a brief interview, she knew that being a Cannabis Chef was what she was meant to do with her talents.  Sarah felt that this was a unique opportunity to help provide additional healing for patients in a delicious package. Over the course of the next few years, Sarah knew FRX is where she wanted to be. She relentlessly pursued FRX until in a position opened in October of 2021. This was the chance she was waiting for! With culinary creativity, fresh and organic ingredients, and an amazing team,  Sarah has helped to distinguish FRX in the Ohio Edible Market with delicious and potent products designed with patients in mind!

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Bill Williams Headshot
Bill Williams
President, BeneLeaves

Bill Williams JR is currently the President of BeneLeaves. BeneLeaves is a medical cannabis processor in Columbus, OH. BeneLeaves strives to create deep connections with Ohio patients, manufacturing high-quality, cannabis-based medical alternatives that promote health and wellness. BeneLeaves makes vape cartridges, gummies, lotions, capsules, and even gluten-free cookies.

Bill previously was the Director of National Sales for Glory Foods. From seed to shelf he was involved and helped build this national brand. He was responsible for managing the sales and marketing of Glory Foods products to all supermarket customers throughout the United States.

Prior to its sale to McCall Farms, Glory Foods doubled in size from $35M to $70M in revenue during the 2009-2011 timeframe and expanded the retail footprint by nearly 400%. 2015 sales are estimated at $95M.

Before Glory Foods, Bill held several positions with Coca-Cola New England in Needham, Massachusetts where he led his team to regain business in the inner city of Boston, an area that was historically a Pepsi dominated community.

Mr. Williams studied Economics at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. Bill is also a graduate of Business Management program at Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

Bill is an active member of the Charity Newsies since, 2001.

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Harry Berstein
Executive Director, Verde

As general counsel of a beer and wine wholesale distributor for nearly two decades, Harry handled all legal matters including, contracts, franchise agreements, labor negotiations, as well as state and federal licensing and compliance. For 19 years, as an attorney, he has assisted individuals with health care matters and special needs including representing clients at federal administrative hearings at the Social Security Administration.

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Jim McCoy Headshot
Jim McCoy
Director of Program Operations, Verde

Jim spent 32 years with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) where he served in various positions. For the past ten years he has assisted numerous alcohol and tobacco industry members with federal permit, product, tax and operational compliance issues. He is sought after by cannabis processors, CBD processors, and alcohol and tobacco producers for guidance with regulatory matters.

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Dave Patton
Director of Permit Services, Verde

Dave is a U.S. Army veteran, former assistant Ohio Attorney General, and currently an attorney at law practicing exclusively in the cannabis space since 2016. He is active in the cannabis industry as an instructor teaching medical marijuana law and regulations at the Cleveland School of Cannabis and as a member of the International Cannabis Bar Association. Dave’s article called “A History of United States Cannabis Law” will soon be published in the Journal of Law & Health.

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Dr. Jean Boutros Headshot
Dr. Jean Boutros
Pinnacle Testing & Specialty Labs LLC

Dr. Boutros received his Bachelor’s in Chemistry from the Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon. He moved to the United States and earned his Doctoral degree in Clinical Bioanalytical Chemistry from Cleveland State University. Dr. Boutros did two years of postdoctoral research at the Cleveland State University, Chemistry Department. He studied induced oxidative damage in Kidney cells – employing electrochemical and chromatography (HPLC, LC-MS) techniques. While managing a group of graduate and undergraduate students, he was involved in all aspects of laboratory management including, administrative and procurement. During this time, his laboratory partnered with the Cleveland Clinic, Lerner Research Institute, working  on how breast and prostate cancer develop in the body; he was later offered a position as a Research Scientist. 

After his Cleveland Clinic experience, Dr. Boutros joined Kerry Food Taste and Nutrition as a Senior Scientist in product development and characterization. He also assisted the regulatory team in the applied health and nutrition business. During his tenure at Cleveland State University and Cleveland Clinic he was published in several high-rated scientific journals. Moreover, his method development and product characterization of Wellmune (an immune system enhancer) was published in the Food Chemistry Journal. Dr. Boutros was most recently a Senior Bio-analytical scientist in the field of food and cell nutrition products development (specializing in method development/validation, product formulation and characterization, and analytical testing) using state-of-the-art instrumentation. 

Dr. Boutros was the recipient of multiple awards and was recognized for participating at several conferences and symposiums throughout the United States. He resides in North Olmsted, Ohio and joined Pinnacle Testing and Specialty Labs, LLC as a consultant and later as Lab Director as of July 2020.

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Sincere Thompson Headshot
Sincere Thompson
Frontline Marketing and Promotions, Inc.

Mr. Thompson started his record career at Wild Pitch Records, eventually rising to prominence as National Director of Promotion where he took several of the labels releases to top Billboard chart positions which led to the label securing a multi-million dollar distribution deal. 
Soon he was courted by major labels in the business and chose to work for Polygram Label Group as Sr. Director of Marketing where he assembled a team to facilitate marketing campaigns for all artist on affiliated labels Def Jam (Warren G., LL Cool J, Montell Jordan, etc.) Island Music (U2, Melissa Ethridge, Cranberries, Bob Marley), Next Plateau (Salt & Pepa, Paperboy), Gee Street (PM Dawn, Jungle Brothers, Doug E Fresh). 
He was later tapped by music legend Antonio “LA” Reid to launch the careers of Outkast, TLC and Goodie Mob (which spawned the critically acclaimed Ceelo). In 1995, Thompson was appointed VP of Marketing for Universal/Motown Records where he pioneered a new approach to building artist brands. He assembled a national sub-marketing team, aptly named “Frontline”. This team was equipped with fully wrapped mobile advertising street assault vehicles kitted with a booming sound system and external facing video monitors, a first in the industry. 
This Frontline team took theproduct to the places where fans socialized to create awareness while building an organic “buzz” at college and community radio stations. Once this team worked with the artist to establish a national following, Sincere would then put his marketing media machine in motion to catapult the artist to superstardom. He’s been instrumental inlaunching the careers of Common, Brian McKnight, Wu-Tang Clan, Mary J. Blige, The Roots, Westside Connection, JOE and Erykah Badu to name a few.
Dubbed a marketing & promotions pioneer in the music industry, in 1996 Sincere parlayed his talent for building entertainment brands into an entrepreneurial venture founding Frontline Marketing and Promotions,Inc. 
The agency offers clients unconventional methods of positioning their products in the hearts and minds of consumers. Frontline extended its capabilities into the spirits industry and became the agency of record for the Martell Cognac and Seagram’s Gin brands for 9 years responsible for sponsorship placement and all aspects of event design and production, staff training and entertainment procurement for over 5,000 events. 
Frontline further expanded it’s lifestyle marketing prowess to other industries and brands including HBO, Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble – Pantene and Cover Girl Queen Collection, Washington Redskins , Plantronics, Amazon, ADT, ASUS and Walmart. 

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Arleen Crider
Arleen Crider
Founder, Indygo Therapeutics

Arleen Crider is a proud Cannabis Nurse Herbalist and expert on cannabinoid therapeutics. She is a compassionate and motivated nurse with over 13 years of hands-on experience in multiple areas of the healthcare industry. In true millennial form and a talent for quickly mastering technology, Arleen has excelled in the specialty of Nursing Informatics. She has been an active member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association since 2016, before being elected regional director for the organization. Arleen has written a medical curriculum for the Cleveland School of Cannabis, as well as instructs classes on the Endocannabinoid System, Patient Navigation, and Dispensary Operations to future caregivers entering the medical cannabis industry. Discussing interactions between doctors, patients, nurses, and caregivers, Arleen teaches individuals how to safely incorporate cannabis into their lifestyles.

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Jack Grover
CEO, Grove Bags

Prior to cannabis, Jack worked in finance and technology. Since starting Grove Bags six years ago, Jack has become a recognized expert in curing and storing cannabis, terpene degradation, and flexible packaging. 

His inventions are used globally in every primary cannabis market and have been recognized by mainstream institutions such as the Dow Innovation Awards and High Times. 

Grover has shared his knowledge of the packaging and cultivation space as a featured speaker and panelist at cannabis events, and seminars, and as a guest of industry associations.


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Geo Bivins
Geo Bivins
President, Port Perry Entertainment

Consult major and small record labels. Secure national radio airplay on Hip Hop and R&B records. Provide marketing and sales support.

Geo Bivins

2007 – 2020: EVP of Urban Promotion, RCA Records

2001 – 2007 : VP of Urban Promotion, Capitol Records

1997 – 2001: VP of Promotion, Loud Records

1994 – 1997: West Coast/South East Regional Mgr, Jive Records


M.S. Carnegie Mellon University

B.S. University of Pittsburgh

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Nicole Felix Headshot
Nicole Fenix
Director of Education, Cleveland School of Cannabis

Nicole Fenix has been with the Cleveland School of Cannabis (a state certified career school) for the last 5 years as a curriculum writer and instructor, leading to her current role as director of education. She is a state certified high school science teacher, mother of a medical marijuana patient, caregiver, and a cannabis educator. Nicole graduated from Xavier University with BS in biology and earned her M.Ed. from Ashland University. She is currently teaching the Industrial Hemp Course offered at the school.

Nicole is part owner of Chagrin Valley Hemp Company (hemp processing) where she created an offsite hemp processing lab at CVHC for CSC students. Nicole hosted a Hemp Day at the school bringing together local hemp companies along with a demonstration by Homeland Hempcrete covered by Cannabis Business Times. Nicole played an integral part in CSC obtaining their Hemp Research License. She believes the only way to change the stigma of marijuana and to understand the potential of hemp is through education.

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Alex Huska
Alex Huska
Founder and CEO, Organic Plus Brands

Organic Plus Brands is a multifaceted company that provides a wide range of services across the hemp industry.

The Organic Plus Brands journey started in about 2016 with Alex and his belief in whole-plant medicine. Alex had been diagnosed with a critical case of Crohn’s Disease at the age of 21.

Seeing how effective it had been for himself and others, Alex brought the concept of whole-plant medicine to the CBD industry and created our brand Whole Plant™.

Our other in-house brand, Plant Puff™, was born from a desire to bring national access to high-quality & innovative products to build a culture around it as an acceptable lifestyle.

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Allison Smith Newsome
Allison Smith Newsome
Attorney, Taft Law

Allison focuses her practice on the representation of hospitals, physician groups, and other healthcare organizations regarding healthcare law’s regulatory, transactional, and business aspects. She assists in the sale, purchase, mergers and acquisitions, and leasing of health care assets, facilities, and services, including nursing homes, senior housing facilities, and physician practices. Allison also advises health and life sciences, clients, on startup and financing, employment law, reimbursement, hospital, and physician joint ventures, state professional and facility licensing issues, food and drug law, and various regulatory matters, including HIPAA, Stark, and Anti-Kickback issues. Additionally, Allison counsels research organizations and medical device companies and has experience in matters pertaining to telehealth, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. Allison also assists banks with USD and foreign currency LIBOR remediation and closing on SBA loans for commercial lenders.

Allison received her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 2019 and was the commencement speaker for her graduating class. She was also honored as the 2019 Student of the Year and served her peers as a Student Bar Association Senator (three-year term) and Graduate Student Council President. Prior to law school, Allison received her B.A. from Vanderbilt University. Beyond her vast community involvement today, Allison serves as an Adjunct Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, teaching Advanced Transactional Legal Writing, and as the Rocky River Magistrate for the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court’s Diversion Program.

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Nathan Rutz
Director of Soil,

RBR/Tilth Soil

Nathan Rutz is Director of Soil at Rust Belt Riders Compost and Tilth Soil. He gets his hands dirty mixing, testing, and talking about soil. After discovering high levels of lead in his home garden on the east side of Cleveland 9 years ago, he devoted his time to learning the arts and sciences of composting and soil blending. On the quest to discover to make the best soil he can, he’s traveled across the country learning from leading scientists, composters, and growers. Nathan will talk your ear off whether it’s about nematodes, nitrogen, no-till, or net income.

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Lisa Zwiner
Lisa Zwiner
Director of Education
, Cannabis Hub

Lisa Zwirner is the current Director of Education at the Cannabis Hub, powered by the Cleveland School of Cannabis. Since 2010, she has grown cannabis. In 2012, she began producing a strain of Cannabis known as Mama’s Chili Bomb, which is currently available for sale on the Canadian medical cannabis market. Lisa was one of the first moderators for the educational series on YouTube, “Hash Church”, and continues to moderate the series when aired. Lisa has also served as a Caregiver in Michigan before her current role with CSC/Cannabis Hub.

Before entering a career in cannabis education, Lisa worked in the medical field, as a phlebotomist, traveling throughout the U.S. conducting health and wellness clinics. From 1998 – to 2012 Ms. Zwirner was the co-owner and Controller of two family-owned businesses that involved the sales and fabrication of stainless-steel processing equipment.

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Lo Friesen
CEO, Heylo

Lo Friesen is the founder and CEO of Heylo, an award-winning cannabis company with a mission and family of products and brands that help anyone get more out of life.

Upon obtaining a degree in Chemistry from Northwestern University, Lo followed a passion for medicine to provide patient care and conduct clinical research in a renowned gastroenterology lab in Chicago, IL. She has been published in multiple white papers related to esophageal disorders. The experience inspired her to explore cannabis as medicine and to enter the emerging industry in 2015.

Lo joined Eden Labs, the leading CO2 extraction equipment manufacturer, to build a Research and Development department. Leading a team of 5 people she managed the development of Eden Labs’ newest system, the FX2 Supercritical CO2 Extractor. 

After working with two other cannabis processors, Lo obtained a cannabis processing license from Washington State and launched Heylo in 2017. She established the company with core values of education and transparency which have elevated the standard of excellence for the broader industry. 

Lo and the Heylo team are committed to education and facilitate community engagement by hosting educational events, a concert series, public tours, and American Chemical Society meetings as well as other professional meetups. Her personal mission is to enable active and engaged lifestyles with cannabis.

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Joanie Caleodis Headshot
Joanie Caleodis
Ohio’s First Medical Patient

My name is Joanie Caleodis and I am Ohio‘s first medical cannabis patient to purchase in Ohio. I worked for the state government for 27 years and left on
disability.  I worked for the family catering business for 45 years. In 2010 I was diagnosed with primary progressive MS and I was prescribed a cocktail of medication to deal with the symptoms of the multiple sclerosis . At the time of my diagnosis there were no FDA approved meds for my form of MS. 
In 2015 when I went on disability, and I drove to Colorado with some friends to learn about medical cannabis. When I returned, I started advocating in Ohio for patients to legally be prescribed medical cannabis to treat their medical conditions. Since our legalization I have worked with some local group on decriminalizing misdemeanor amounts of cannabis in Ohio. Cannabis has given me a life outside of the 16 pills a day that I was taking to manage my symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

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Nicole Perr
Dart Bank

Nicole has been with Dart Bank since 2016 as the Office Manager and most recently VP/Senior Treasury Management Officer. She brings with her 20 years of financial services experience. Prior to joining Dart Bank, she worked for various financial institutions holding many different roles, specializing in business banking.

Nicole is an alumna of the Lansing Chamber of Commerce’s Lansing Leadership 2018 class and is part of the Perry School of Banking class of 2020. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management with an emphasis in Human Resources from Davenport University and attended Central Michigan University for her Master of Science degree. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys attending Michigan State University football and basketball games and spending time with her family and friends at the lake.

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Devin Lavengood
Dart Bank

Devin has been with Dart Bank since 2006 and in community banking since 1994. Devin has held positions in retail banking, loan operations, consumer, and residential lending prior to transitioning in to commercial and agricultural lending.

Devin is a graduate of Alma College, Central Michigan’s Robert M. Perry School of Banking, where he earned the Outstanding Student Award, the Kansas and Nebraska’s School of Agricultural Lending and Advanced Agricultural Lending, and the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Devin is a member and past president of the Grand Ledge Rotary. Outside of banking, Devin enjoys spending time with family and friends, hunting, and following the Michigan State Spartans.

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Matt Wilhelm
Former NFL Linebacker

Matt Wilhelm is a former NFL linebacker. Matt was recruited by The Ohio State University and accepted a full athletic scholarship to play football for the Buckeyes. There, he was a four-year letterman. He anchored the defense for three seasons, twice winning the Randy Gradishar Top Linebacker Award. He was named to the All-Big 10 First Team and was a consensus First Team All-American. Ohio State won the BCS National Championship in 2002. Matt had a memorable game with 11 tackles as the Buckeyes defeated the Miami Hurricanes 31-24 in double overtime in the Fiesta Bowl. It was hailed by many as the greatest game in college football history.
Drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2003, Matt played eight seasons in the National Football League. He spent six seasons with the Chargers, four of those as a starting linebacker. Next came one season with the San Francisco 49ers, then Matt topped off his NFL career with a 2010 Super Bowl XLV win with the Green Bay Packers. 
After the NFL, Matt turned to sports broadcasting in Cleveland. He was well-known as a football analyst for AM850 ESPN Cleveland WKNR radio and WEWS-TV 5 for five years. There are many ailments brought on by the game of football. After using CBD products and seeing significant improvement in his ailments, Matt became an advocate for hemp based products and has been a featured speaker on panels all across the country. Matt is passionate about sharing his story and educating people about the endocannabinoid system and how CBD can help so many people in need. His wife, Vanessa, recently opened a premium CBD house, Kerwell, in Westlake, Ohio where they reside with their three children.

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Reggie Smith
Reggie Smith
Vice President of the Chicago Former Players Chapter

Reggie Smith started for three years as an offensive tackle at the University of Kansas, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Resources. He played the same position professionally for the NFL Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and USFL Tampa Bay Bandits
After leaving the game Reggie spent 18 years building a successful litigation support firm that he sold in 2008.
He currently works as Director of Business Development for Primus an innovative solutions provider for the Telecommunications industry specializing in infrastructure materials and currently resides in Chicago with his wife Allison, they have 3 adult children Michael, Arianna, Amber and grandsons Leland and Rockwell.
Reggie recently completed serving a second 3-year term on the 9-member National Board of Directors for the National Football League Former Players (NFLPA), a board member of the Brain Injury Association of Illinois and an Advisory board member of the Sports Legacy Institute of Boston.
In addition, Reggie is past President and current Vice President of the Chicago Former Players Chapter of the NFLPA and is an officer with the RPFPC Charity, an organization dedicated to providing our communities’ youth a promising future.

Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Inc. (M4MM) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization focused on advocacy, education, and outreach as it relates to the social, medical, business, and public policy aspects of the cannabis industry. M4MM is a membership based organization working hard to make sure people of color have a true quantifiable opportunity to participate in this marketplace and are afforded adequate access to care despite their economic situation. M4MM currently has presence in 15 states throughout the country.

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Linda Berry
Linda Berry

Chef Linda Berry is a classically trained professional chef and educator who specializes in teaching underserved communities how to incorporate nourishing foods into their diet. She uses her company to demystify apprehension to “healthy foods”, and trains chefs looking to educate and operate their businesses through hands-on education. Chef Berry currently facilitates classes and presentations on the use of cannabis in food, focusing on infusion applications, methods of consumption, proper dosing calculations, as well as cannabinoid, flavor, and ingredient considerations for varying populations. She also works as a chef with The High-End Affair, a traveling cannabis experience, and recently joined The Cleveland School of Cannabis as an Adjunct Culinary Instructor for their Columbus, Ohio campus.

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Shurri Five Sankofa
Shurri (Five) Sankofa
Traditional Indigenous Midwife

Five, is a full circle Traditional Indigenous Midwife residing in the Cleveland, Ohio area. As a holistic birth professional Five focuses on the whole experience of birth from preconception guidance to postpartum support up to and beyond one year. 

She has experience with hospital birth/homebirths, natural and belly births, additionally placenta ceremonies.

Five is also a  Board Certified Naturopath, utilizing herbs as a way to bring balance to the body, mind, and spirit. Working closely with more traditional herbs and healing aspects that aid in the rites of passage of birth and life. You can find Five teaching at the Cleveland School of Cannabis and The Harrington Institute, helping to educate the community on the many beneficial uses and applications of Cannabis. She has a special focus on Cannabis and pregnancy, leading her to author Bumps and Blunts. 

“Birth is an intimate and sacred experience for every woman, I am honored to be guided by my ancestors to guide a woman through the process with her family.

My work as a Traditional Indigenous Midwife improves infant and maternal health by using the spirit of Sankofa to bring health practices back to us. Working with indigenous plant medicine to create optimal health environments for mom and baby is essential to work. Utilizing the tools and practices of our ancestors increases our mental strength to empower us on the journey to motherhood

Five also enjoys time cultivating her family of 8 children, one grandchild, a farm, many animals, and her personal growth as a being in this vast world.

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Hope Seavers
Hope Seavers
Health Plus Natural Foods

Hope Seavers is the manager of Health Plus Natural Foods in Sandusky Ohio. In her current role, Hope builds positive, lasting relationships with the patients she serves and the surrounding community by educating patients and caregivers on product types, uses, and dosage to ensure maximum benefit for each unique condition. She works with local assisted living programs and administrative medical teams to address barriers, such as funding and transportation, and hopes to make medical marijuana easily accessible for everyone. In addition, Hope holds a master’s degree in professional counseling and owns Phenomenal Phoenix, a personal coaching company focused on motivation, healing, and holistic practices.

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Gabrielle Dion
Gabrielle Dion
, Medicate OH

Medicate OH’s Founder and Publisher is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Northern Kentucky University. She has more than 25 years of experience writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries, including positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Patient Pop. Her story of overcoming opioid addiction with cannabis led to her co-founding MedicateOH in 2019. The non-profit publication currently reaches more than 10,000 Ohioans with education, journalism, and advocacy.

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Tim Johnson Headshot Cannabis Safety First
Tim Johnson
President/Founder of CSF

Tim is a retired Law Enforcement Officer and a US Air Force Veteran. Tim presents with thirty years of experience as a Safety Security Specialist and with an educational background in Criminal Law, Police Sciences, and Business Management. As a Safety and Security Specialist, Tim founded Cannabis Safety First to provide services to the Ohio Medical Cannabis Program. Tim was an instrumental participant in the creation of the Ohio Medical Cannabis and Ohio Hemp Programs. Tim continues to work with state legislators and program regulators to secure patient protection rights, address criminal justice reform, and promote amendments for the betterment of the programs. Tim’s legislative services further cover drug policy reform, criminal justice reform, law enforcement reform, and government relations. Tim stays active in the programs by providing a state-accredited safety training program, turnkey security services, business development consulting, risk management solutions, legislative input, working with licensees, and consulting with various advocacy organizations around the state. 

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Steve Headshot
Steve Peterson
President, GCAC N.A.

Steve’s career has spanned financial and operational roles that include 12 yrs in broadcasting/publishing, 24 yrs in Silicon Valley, and the last 6 yrs in the cannabis and hemp industries.

Managed three dispensaries in Calif and Oregon, three years in cannabis venture capital, and co-founder and CEO of WasteTrakr Technologies for sustainability management, recently sold to GCAC.

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Kate Headshot
Kate O’Hara
VP of Business Development, GCAC N.A.

Kate O’Hara is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and start-up specialist. Her latest endeavors are in blockchain, track and trace technology, SaaS, farming, industrial hemp, hospitality, healthcare arena.

She is committed to ecosystems that have been brought on by environmental and societal problems. As a pioneer in disrupting the industrial hemp, cannabis, agriculture, and technology industries, her ability to grasp challenges and deliver solutions is unique!

She is globally recognized as an innovator in science and technology, specializing in startups. Her successes have unlocked the power and profitability of resilient emerging startup industries and brought financing and capital across the whole supply chain — including growers to corporate brands. She combines best-in-class branding, sales, and marketing targeting soil, farming, regenerative, agriculture, health, financial, and sustainable modeling. As an innovative data researcher and collector, she delivers customized, site-specific, and scalable solutions to emerging innovative industries.

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Mr. MIXX Headshot
DJ, Music Producer

David Hobbs, also known by his stage name Mr. Mixx, is a co-founder of the controversial rap group 2 Live Crew, along with being a scratch DJ and music producer of the group. In his early twenties, Hobbs was in the United States Air Force and he co-founded 2 Live Crew while he was stationed in California. 

Early 2 Live Crew singles gained so much traction in Florida that they relocated there. By 1986, the group released the single “Throw The ‘D'”; it is now considered the blueprint of Miami bass.

Later in 1986, 2 Live Crew released their debut album, The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are. The album established the group’s signature style of comical sexually explicit lyrics. After a slew of successful releases the group met with considerable controversy as a U.S. district court ruled the album legally obscene. They were prosecuted, but all later acquitted.

Hobbs produced popular 2 Live Crew singles such as “Throw the D”, “Me So Horny”, “Hoochie Mama”, and other titles in the group’s Miami bass musical catalog. Currently, Hobbs continues to DJ and produce other artists

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Craig Schluttenhofer Headshot
Craig Schluttenhofer
Research Assistant Professor Of Natural Products at Central State University

Dr. Craig Schluttenhofer is the Research Assistant Professor of Natural Products at Central State University. He received his doctorate in Plant Physiology from the University of Kentucky after completing Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees at Purdue University. He started working with hemp in 2014 while at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Schluttenhofer research specializes in the genetics and biochemistry of Cannabis used for agricultural and medical purposes. Current research foci include developing new hemp varieties, understanding the plants’ biochemistry, improving production and processing practices, and developing new uses for the crop. Dr. Schluttenhofer has received over $11.6 million dollars related to hemp research, including serving as a co-principal investigator and Research Lead for a $10 million USDA Sustainable Agriculture Systems award studying the use of hemp grain products as a feed ingredient for rainbow trout. He also serves as principal investigator for a $1.3-million-dollar contract with the FDA to study the chemistry of smoked and vaped hemp products.

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James Bean Headshot
James Bean
Senior Analyst, Sycamore Group

James Bean is a senior analyst at Sycamore Growth Group. He specializes in investigating tax issues that affect Sycamore’s diverse clientele.

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Andrew Hamerly
Website Administrator,
Ohio Cannabis Health & Business Summit

Andrew Hamerly provides custom solution-based business and marketing support to numerous Ohio Cannabis & Hemp businesses. He is the Website Administrator and SEO at the Ohio Cannabis Health & Business Summit, Ascension Biomedical, Plant Puff™, and Whole Plant™ CBD.

He was born south of Cleveland and went to three different Ohio colleges ultimately receiving a bachelor’s degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Baldwin Wallace University, an associate’s degree in Supply Chain Management from Cuyahoga Community College, and a Cannabis Horticulture Certificate from The Cleveland School of Cannabis.

Andrew is known to learn consistently, staying up to date on the world of cannabis, copywriting, organic search, digital marketing, and WordPress websites. If you have any questions about how online cannabis marketing can transform your business, please reach out through my website AndrewHamerly.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Jared Mirsky
Wick & Mortar

Since 2009 Jared Mirsky and his award-winning cannabis-focused branding and marketing agency, Wick & Mortar, have been featured in dozens of magazines including Entrepreneur Media, Forbes, National Geographic, Wired, Cheddar, Huff Post, and CNN Money. 2018 was the most explosive growth year yet, and Wick & Mortar continues to rack up awards and honors such as Top 40 under 40 in Marijuana Venture Magazine, 2x Dope Industry Award Winners, and most recently ranked #193 by Entrepreneur 360. Not content with simply winning awards, Jared continues to shape an industry and is now a regular contributor to Forbes, High Times, Entrepreneur, and The Fresh Toast. Despite the successes, for Jared, the greatest achievement in his life is his son. Rebranding Cannabis is his mission, and he aims to accomplish this by helping to educate the industry on the power of successful branding in the cannabis space and the impact it has on the world.

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Joshua Crossney
CSC Events, LLC

Joshua Crossney is the CEO & Founder of CSC Events, LLC., which hosts the world’s largest, semi-annual Cannabis Science Conference (www.CannabisScienceConference.com). Joshua Crossney is also the President & Founder of jCanna, Inc., (www.jCanna.com) a 501(c)3 non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of cannabis science, analytical testing, and personalized (precision) medicine.

Joshua is an Advisory Board member of CannaKids, a California Cooperative that supplies mold, pesticide, and solvent-free Honey Gold cannabis oil to children and adults who are suffering from cancer, autism, epilepsy, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, severe pain disorders, and so much more. Joshua has a motto of collaboration, not competition in this emerging medical industry where so much still needs to be accomplished. He is doing his best to bridge the gap between analytical sciences and the medical cannabis industry to help improve the quality of medicinal cannabis products being used by patients.

Joshua recently received the Vanguard Award at the 2019 Strides in Science Awards Gala for his global advocacy in advancing cannabis science, was named as one of the “Top 25 Innovators in 2020” by Cannabis & Tech Today, was featured in Marijuana Venture’s “40 Under 40: Rising Stars in the Cannabis Industry” issue, was recognized two years in a row at the Cannabis Business Awards as 2016 & 2017 MVP of the Year and was the featured cover story for 1000 Watts Magazine’s 2017 4/20 issue. Joshua has also been featured in Forbes, Huff Post, CTV News, and many other leading media outlets. Joshua is an internationally recognized public speaker in the cannabis industry. Some of his recent international speaking engagements include Colombia, Israel, and Canada.

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Jazmyn Stover
Partner Fisher Phillips

Jazmyn Stover is a partner at the Fisher Phillips law firm’s Cleveland office. She advises clients on critical workplace issues that develop at the intersection of business and employment law. She routinely advises public and private employers on a variety of employment issues, related to the Family Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, employment discrimination, protecting trade secrets and confidential corporate information, and the drafting and enforcement of non-compete/non-disclosure agreements. She also has experience representing employers in mergers, acquisitions, plant closures and relocations, and reductions in force. Jazmyn has represented employers in Ohio state and federal courts as well as regulatory agencies. Jazmyn has dedicated much of her practice to representing employers in the health care, hospitality, real estate, retail, and service industries.

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Andrea Sparr-Jaswa
GIE Media, Inc.

Andrea Sparr-Jaswa is the science editor for the Cannabis Group at GIE Media, Inc., whose publications include the award-winning Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary, and the newest addition to the group, Hemp Grower. Prior to joining the GIE team in August 2019, she headed up education efforts at the renowned science-focused dispensary Farma in Portland, Oregon. As the Director of Education, she helped to build out in-depth educational content that trained new employees on endocannabinology and cannabis science and curated weekly staff educational sessions with local researchers, cultivators, and processors. Her role at Farma also included community outreach development, one-on-one consultations, and phytochemical data review to improve consumer experiences and consumption predictability through the navigation of compound variables. Her time in Oregon working with some of the cannabis industry’s top educators and researchers instilled a deep appreciation for developing a language of trust and transparency through science to improve consumer engagement and outcomes which she has carried over into her science-focused work at GIE Media. With the return to her Midwestern roots, Sparr-Jaswa is passionate about sharing all that she learned during her time at Farma and committed to standardizing cannabis education across communities.

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Brittany Brantley
Associate Fisher Phillips

Brittany Brantley is an associate at Fisher Phillips law firm. She represents employers in various labor and employment legal matters, including representing employers in a wide variety of employment litigation in state and federal courts and before various administrative agencies. Before joining Fisher Phillips, Brittany worked as an associate at a law firm in Cleveland, Ohio, and was a judicial extern for the Honorable Nora Barry Fischer of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

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Jonathan Cachat, PhD
Chief Executive Officer – CCV Research

Dr. Jonathan Cachat, PhD has a doctorate degree in Neuroscience, focusing on Psychopharmacology (drugs, brain behavior). He has published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 2 books on the use of adult zebrafish in behavioral pharmacology research. Cannabis Now journalist Jimi Devine referred to Dr. Cachat as “One of the brightest minds in cannabis…”.

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Dr. Dvora Nelson
Lakewood Medical Clinic

Dr. Dvora Nelson is a Board-Certified General Surgeon with specialty certification in Phlebology. Dr. Nelson has been published in medical journals, has been an invited lecturer at medical conferences, and was a featured physician on Lifetime Cable network’s series “Women Docs”. Dr. Nelson’s background in medical marijuana comes after completing coursework on Clinical Cannabinoid Medicine offered by The Medical Cannabis Institute. She completed a fellowship with the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine. Dr. Nelson is proficient in the history of cannabis as medicine, the endocannabinoid system, basic cannabis ethnobotany, the pharmacology of cannabis and the physiological effects of phytocannabinoids, the delivery, and dosage of medical cannabis, and clinical case study reviews. She is also the co-owner of Lakewood Medical Clinic, a successful medical cannabis recommendation facility.

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Joel Holt
Dev Cann

Joel is DevCann’s Vice-President & Legal Director. Joel has broad experience in business planning, corporate governance, litigation, & employment law.  Joel has operated side-by-side with Jim in establishing DevCann’s network & in developing the Greece project.  He has worked closely with DevCann’s strategic partners in Greece on the legal elements of licensure, including land acquisition, corporate structure, & the specifics of the application. Joel is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP), with an extensive knowledge of U.S. cybersecurity laws.  Joel is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

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John Izzo
Graff & McGovern, LPA

John Izzo received his JD from The University of Akron School of Law and a BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois.  John is one of eight specialists in administrative agency law as certified by the Ohio State Bar Association.  He concentrates his practice in administrative law, medical cannabis law, and equine law. He has represented clients before many state agencies, including the Ohio Department of Commerce, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the State Medical Board of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Insurance, and the Ohio State Racing Commission.  John is also a hearing examiner for several state agencies.  He is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association and several of its committees, including the Administrative Law Committee and Gaming and Liquor Law Committee.  For more information about John, go to www.GraffMcGovern.com/john-izzo.

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James Ickes
Dev Cann

Jim is DevCann’s President and Director of Global Development.  He is focused on developing personal relationships within the cannabis industry.  Jim air-dropped into Greece in 2017 and quickly earned a good reputation and the ear of the Greek government. Jim has met with Greece’s Minister of Agriculture and the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, and at the request of the Greek government, Jim & Joel provided a recommended legal framework for Greece’s medical cannabis law.  Several of DevCann’s recommendations are included in Greece’s current law.  At home, Jim has established himself as a presence in the Ohio cannabis industry.  He has established an extensive and connected network of politicians, industry insiders, and license holders.  Jim is a Healthcare Information Security & Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP) with extensive experience in HIPAA compliance.

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